Recently there have been concerns expressed by North Augusta High School community members that our beloved North Augusta High School is not safe because of students engaging in physical altercations.
As the principal of North Augusta High School, I would like to reassure our community that North Augusta High is a safe school that demands appropriate student behavior and expects only the best and most rigorous instructional programming.
At the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year, we embraced the implementation of a code of conduct for student discipline that was developed by a committee of Aiken County community members and Aiken County public-school employees. I am proud to state that I was able to serve on this important committee and fully support the strength and effectiveness of the new code of conduct.
The resulting discipline policy serves to support and enhance North Augusta High, executing its beliefs to accomplish our goals for the mission of our school. The new discipline policy allows the administration of our school to assign appropriate consequences for any violation of the code of conduct that results in a more rehabilitative approach while not compromising the safety of the students and employees of the school.
For example, in the past some violations of the student code of conduct resulted in an automatic expulsion recommendation. In many cases expulsion recommendations were not the most appropriate consequence because of the potential to place a student in our alternative school. An alternative-school placement can better serve a respective student’s unique needs while also ensuring that the student is removed from the school in order to maintain a safe environment while communicating to all other students the serious consequences that may result from a major disciplinary offense. As a result, disciplinary decisions are thoughtful and effective.
It is accurate that our school day has been interrupted by more physical altercations this year than in the past. August and September saw two physical altercations each. October saw four physical altercations. The administration of North Augusta High issued discipline swiftly in each of these incidents. The faculty and administration of North Augusta High collaborated during this time to discuss changes that should be made to eliminate these types of behaviors.
As a result, proactive measures were established and increased supervision was employed during transition times and in commons areas. Disciplinary consequences have been increased during the first semester to appropriately punish and deter any other students from engaging in this unacceptable behavior. I am proud to report that our school has seen a dramatic reduction and elimination of this type of behavior during November and December. We experienced one physical altercation in November, and none in December and so far in January.
Poor student behavior can be very upsetting, frustrating and embarrassing. However, appropriate student behavior is a source of pride, satisfaction and excitement for all of our futures. If any member of the North Augusta High community has any questions or concerns, I invite you to call, email, or come see me at North Augusta High at any time.
(The writer has been principal of North Augusta High School since 2013.)